UW Medicine says benefit of FDA-approved 2nd booster shot is 'very marginal'

FILE - A healthcare worker administers the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) COVID-19 booster jab to a boy during the vaccination campaign.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a second COVID-19 booster shot for people ages 50 and up, but researchers at UW Medicine believe the benefits are limited.

This decision from the FDA still requires approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but would allow immunocompromised people and anyone ages 50 and up to get a fourth shot of the vaccine, either Pfizer or Moderna. They would become eligible four months after their first booster shot.

UW Medicine clinical virologist Dr. Anna Wald says that, for people over age 50, the benefits of another booster shot are not many.

"I think the benefit is very marginal in that population," said Wald. "These vaccines that are currently available do not seem to prevent infection very effectively. But they do work really well, even in three doses, to prevent hospitalization and death."

Wald is the medical director for UW Medicine's virology research clinic at Harborview, which is currently running two studies on the efficacy of alternative COVID boosters.

"What we really need is a new approach," said Wald, "a vaccine that's different and that would provide, I think, broader and longer lasting immunity so that we would not have to be getting boosters every six months."

RELATED: FDA approves 2nd COVID-19 vaccine booster for those 50 and older

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